The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has said that, “the scale of damage caused by Cyclone Idai that hit the Mozambican city of Beira is massive and horrifying.”
Beira was the first major casualty of the cyclone which struck the country late last week. The city was cut off from due to the effect of strong winds and rains that continued across the week according to reports.
Most communities were submerged with all communication lines cut off. Deaths have been reported along with massive human displacement and destruction of buildings in Beira.
Jamie LeSueur who led the IFRC team on an aerial assessment said: “The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed.
“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.
“Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city,” he stressed.
The Red Cross team were only able to tour the affected areas on Sunday. Their statement of March 18 said in part: “While the physical impact of Idai is beginning to emerge, the human impact is unclear.”
Following its landfall in Mozambique Cyclone Idai continued west to Zimbabwe as a Tropical Storm, wreaking havoc in several districts in the eastern part of the country, with Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland Province being the hardest-hit.
At least 31 deaths have been reported and over 100 people are missing in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is the latest country in Southern Africa to be hit by heavy rains and violent winds, after Malawi and Mozambique.
The death toll in the three countries is currently estimated at 150. But this number is likely to change as the full extent of the damage becomes clear. More heavy rain is also anticipated and this may lead to further devastation.
IFRC has already released about 340,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will go towards an initial response effort for about 7,500 people.
However, given the scale of the disaster, more resources may be needed to support Mozambique Red Cross efforts on the ground. Already, the team in Beira has identified shelter, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene as priorities.
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